The Saturday morning of the most recent outbreak of violence against Israel, a co-worker asked, "Are you ready for World War III?"
My response was a little more dismissive than it should have been, but I stand by its basic premise:
"You will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come." -Matthew 24:6-8
Since my spiritual awakening in the 1970s, every time something drastic happened in the Middle East, a new load of books would be released talking about how the end was near and how such-and-such ruler or such-and-such military campaign was the fulfillment of certain verses in Daniel or Revelation. And then things would die down and people stopped buying the books until their new editions were released a few years down the road at the next outbreak of violence.
It didn't take long for me to stop getting anxious about "wars and threats of war" in the Middle East.
Adding to my lack of anxiety was a book I read as part of my college class on eschatology. It was titled The Meaning of the Millenium and was authored by four people who held four different convictions about how the world is going to end. They each wrote a short paper supporting their view with Scripture references and charts, and then the other three would write rebuttals "proving" the view false.
There they were, four guys who were way smarter than me, each dedicated to the Bible as the inspired word of God, and each coming to a conclusion directly opposed to the other three. It taught me the depth of the truth of Jesus' words in Matthew 24:36 - "No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself."
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Truth is...None of this is meant to say that this latest conflict couldn't possibly be the beginning of the end. It certainly could be. But you know what? I'm not going to worry about it. I'm going to boldly join the Apostle John, praying with his words from Revelation 22:20, "Even so, come Lord Jesus!"